Meet Donna O'Malley
Owner, Belly Hazen, Healing Foods Specialist
The story of Belly Hazen actually began in dis-ease, likely even before I started noticing health problems. In Ayurveda, the roots of health or disease grow, like those of a tree, in places unseen. Only by shining the light of attention, can we notice and begin an inquiry process to determine why our 'leaves and fruit' might be suffering. My issues started in the gut with symptoms that eventually had a name "IBS." Unfortunately for me, or fortunately, I didn't get a "fix-it" treatment to tell me "take this and all will be well." All was far from good, and had I been given a band-aid, I might not be experiencing a life with the health I have today. My body spoke to me in many ways, but I numbed the discomfort and pushed forward with other agendas. This hiding from the truth didn't last long. By not attending to what was going on or below the surface (rhythms out of sync with nature, ignored messages from my senses, responses to poor food choices for my body and a chronic stress pattern that didn't allow me to learning to come from missteps) the trajectory of my health declined. I reached a point where I could no longer function in my job or in everyday activities. Now having experienced dis-ease like that, I will never again take for granted what health and vitality feel like.
What was unfortunate was that I lost 8 years to severely compromised health, the scariest being cognitive decline. Fortunately, I devoted myself completely to finding root causes for a host of problems contributing to the downward trajectory of my health. A remaining inner spark ignited by Yoga with Andrea showed me I could get well, eventually taking me to Ayurveda where I learned that by living in balance I might stay well for a lifetime.
Without the belief that food would be my medicine, I would not have made numerous alterations in diet and lifestyle that improved digestion, nutrient absorption and decreased inflammation. A healthier gut not only helped me feel better but affected several body systems. By necessity at the outset I made all my own food (including a wide variety of ferments). This allowed me to stick to the initial Paleo diet and the increasing number of supportive eating protocols that followed. What to eat and not eat was an adventure and I embraced it!
Growing my own organic food and having an easy source for all else healthy from Buffalo Mountain Coop served me well, but it took me only so far with my health. My brain was improved, but not quite 'there,' and I didn't yet feel how I wanted to. At Heartspace Yoga Center, I tested the waters of Ayurveda. It meant a change in mindset and a shift in action steps. I had to tap into my own intuition to find what my body needed to heal. Getting this down took time. It was an unfamiliar place for me, since I was used to being guided -- first vegetarian, then Paleo, Candida, GAPS and SCD for SIBO, anti-inflammatory, then autoimmune protocols. Ferments became the common denominator once I'd identified a root cause. Then spices came -- WOW!
I like feeling well. I love learning and have continued to dive deep into the healing power of food. I love having something to offer. Becoming a serious student in my sixties - of Yoga first, then herbal studies, brain science, Ayurveda and now pathways to longevity have led to my blossoming. Owning a business is a venture I could never have imagined 10 years ago.
I am indebted to the availability of VT local foods (especially plant foods) and abundant recipes everywhere I turn. Beneficial bacteria from fermented foods and prebiotics, wisdom habit evolution, Ayurvedic habits, food wisdom, spices and drinks bring health and balance. I have deep gratitude for the many teachers who helped me learn not just the value of nourishing foods, but how to combine, incorporate, prepare, and allow them to work for ME. I learned to pay attention to how I feel and how food choices affect that. Noticing when I'm out of balance has been a life-changer for me. Now it's on to "the great work of my life", however small that might seem from the outside.
I am honored to be able to share food made with love and hopefully some gems of information with all of you!
I have learned so much from Donna about how to nourish myself and my family. She is a wealth of information about natural healing with food and self care practices. Belly Hazen products are delicious. These creations have opened my mind and palate to a wonderful world of new food and healing spices. Belly Hazen ferments are one of our favorites. All of her products are made with so much love and intention. Also in the summer season much of what she offers is homegrown - right from her amazing organic garden. I highly recommend. If you are looking for healing through food you’ve come to the right place.
- Andrea Thibaudeau